Agile Transformation: Introduction &Answering Why (Part1)

Introduction to an Agile Transformation series…

I’ve seen several agile transformation challenges. Since I want to address those challenges, this is a series of posts about agile transformation. The  problems I’m planning to address are:

  • Understanding why agile, why now
  • Change and why we might not be so facile with change and how that challenges a transformation
  • How to see your agile transformation as a system and culture problem.
  • Selecting a handful of possible measurements you might select, to reinforce behaviors you want to see.
  • Recognize a cultural transformation is a journey

I reserve the right to add to this list as I write. I’m not smart enough to write it all in advance. Although I prefer to think I am agile enough that I can take feedback as I write.

Let’s start with why we want to work in a new way.

Why Do We Want to Transform into an Agile Organization?

I wrote a Pragmatic Manager called Define Your Agile Success. If you define the business reasons for using agile approaches (and I have yet to see an organization utilize just one agile approach), you can decide on an agile transformation roadmap and learn to create your agile culture.

Note that the teams might have different reasons than the managers might have for using agile approaches.

Here are some terrific business reasons I’ve seen:

  • Our lead time, the time we put a project on a team’s todo list to the time they complete it, is too long. There are systemic reasons for this, and agile approaches will help expose those reasons.
  • We want to have more collaboration across functions and teams because our products’ quality suffers. We know our right hands and left hands don’t know what each other is doing.
  • We need to deliver more often to our customers. We used to be able to deliver one major release and maybe a couple of minor releases a year, and that timing is no longer sufficient. (The idea of hot fixes is in here, too. I’ve seen too many organizations deliver hot fixes that need to be fixed and fixed and fixed… all because they can’t deliver a real release every month or so.)
  • We need to change what we thought we needed to do much more often. We used to be able to create a five-year plan and revise that plan once a year. No longer! Now we need to change our big plans every year and rethink that planning every couple of months. We might need to change  our mix of products and services even more often.
  • We want to create a culture of change, where we challenge assumptions and change our products and how we think. We want this culture of change because our customers have it!

You might have another reason.

There are many micromanagement reasons to think you can use agile approaches and it’s too depressing for me to list them. I’m going to assume your agile transformation has a great business reason.

That said, you might be one of those people whose agile transformation doesn’t have an explicit reason. That might be one of the reasons your transformation is stuck.

I hope you decide to check out the Influential Agile Leader workshop in Boston, June 7-8, 2018. The super-early bird ends Mar 1, 2018. We can help you articulate your why and what that means for your transformation. Do join us.

Published on Java Code Geeks with permission by Johanna Rothman , partner at our JCG program. See the original article here: Agile Transformation: Introduction & Answering Why (Part1)

Opinions expressed by Java Code Geeks contributors are their own.

Johanna Rothman

Johanna consults, speaks, and writes about managing product development. She helps managers and leaders do reasonable things that work. You can read more of her writings at
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